Monitoring polynyas with Ocean Acoustic Tomography: A feasibility study in Terra Nova Bay

Enrico De Marinis, Paola Picco, Roberto Meloni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


This study looks at the feasibility of using Ocean Acoustic Tomography for long-term monitoring of polynyas using both observations in Terra Nova Bay polynya (Ross Sea) and simulations with a range dependent, multi-layered adiabatic normal mode acoustic propagation model. The summer sound speed profile is characterized by surface values of around 1450 m s-1, a minimum of 1441 m s-1 around 50 m depth and a linear increase with a 0.016 s-1 slope. Thus, the sound propagation is apparently ducted in the near surface layer and is refracted upward below it. During winter, due to water cooling and mixing processes, the subsurface minimum disappears, the surface sound speed is about 1440 m s-1 and no near surface layer ducted propagation occurs. Because of the specificity of the Terra Nova Bay seasonal sound speed profile and to cope with both deep and shelf water applicability, the feasibility study of acoustic inversion was undertaken using normal mode Match Field Tomography instead of the more classical travel-time inversion. The results from simulations demonstrate that ocean acoustic tomography is able to reproduce quite well the vertical sound speed profile, in particular the temporal evolution of summer stratification and winter mixing processes, thus providing information on the upper layer, where direct measurements are not possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63 - 75
Number of pages13
JournalAntarctic Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science(all)

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